NECE Partners: “What does Europe think?”

A very heated and stimulating debate took place yesterday morning when looking at the way the European press pictures the uprisings in North Africa in the forum 'Brave Muslims finally fighting for Western democracy? Reflections of the Arab Spring in European media'.

Sarah Portner (Germany) presented, as an introduction to the debate, a European press review compiling and translating articles from 28 countries. Its aim is to show the most relevant debates in European media by offering a variety of opinions and in the end promoting mutual understanding. Chosen articles are usually about European and transnational, important national, or international topics with European relevance. The slogan of the portal is “What does Europe think?”. intends to stay neutral and leave it up to the reader to like or dislike certain arguments and to draw their own conclusions. While this tool does not directly address citizenship education it could be a tool used for teaching people about the variety of opinions that is out there.

By using a selection of texts found on the website about the screening of the anti-Islam film”The Innocence of Muslims” and the publication of the Mohammed cartoons, a discussion about the picture that the European press paints about the Arab people. The reactions of the participants from the region in question reached from amusement to anger about the misconception about the Arab people, the Arab Spring, and its causes and aims prevails. Some of the participants were bewildered by the fact that in the West people seem to perceive the revolutions as acts directly related to religion and Islam in particular. They tried to stress the fact, that the uprisings are not about religion, they are first of all about “citizens fighting for their rights and freedom”. In the end the group reached the conclusion that the voices of revolutionaries and intellectuals from North Africa are missing in the media discourse and that these groups need to inject themselves to straighten the European picture of society, politics, and religion in the Southern Mediterranean.  

Citizenship Education
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